Meet One of the Men Helping Frankenmuth to Re-Open: Greg Rummel

As Frankenmuth reopens for business, meet the man who worked diligently with local businesses to help them prepare to mitigate the risks of Covid-19. Greg Rummel, third-generation business owner, and fifth-generation Frankenmuth resident shares with us things to think about in the COVID world.  We also talk about beer.

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Transcript

Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:12] Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the call of leadership podcast, where we interview people from our Michigan community who answered the call of leadership. We’re all here. They’re powerful stories and get their advice so that we can be better leaders for ourselves, our families and our communities.

I am your host Cliff DuVernois and today’s guest has got a long standing tradition. Of community service, not only through his family’s business, but he’s also served on the Frankenmuth JCS, the Frankenmuth civic event council, the Cass River Ramblers as well as numerous other volunteering organizations and ladies and gentlemen.

He also has his own beer, which we will discuss later. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the show. The president and CEO of the Rummel Insurance agency, Greg Rummel. Greg, how are you?

Greg Rummell: [00:01:00] Doing great Cliff. Thanks for having me on. Good to be with you.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:04] definitely. And thank you for taking the time to be with us today. Tell us a little bit about where you grew up.

Greg Rummell: [00:01:10] Well, that’s a pretty short story because it’s really not too far from, from where I am right now. In fact, I haven’t, I haven’t gone very far. I’ll tell ya. I am fifth generation here in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Michigan’s a Little Bavaria.  my relatives date back to the, the, the first settlers here in Frankenmuth, having being sent over by Ville hemp, Lahey from Northern dental, Sao and, middle Franconia and Bavaria back in 1845.

And, you know, the transition over the generations went from. No farming and brewing. And, and then into, insurance also had some connections to Star the West milling company, which is still an existence of a longstanding icon here in the Frankenmuth community, part of that agribusiness. So, yeah, I, My father, joined the insurance agency that my, my grandfather Emil had started back in 1950.

In fact, this year we’re, we’re celebrating 70 years,  providing insurance services to local communities and now across Michigan and out-state and even international. we’re just very blessed to be here and have the opportunity to raise a family and, and, such a wonderful community.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:02:28] so congratulations on hitting your 70 year anniversary. That truly is a truly is a really great milestone for you to reach.

Greg Rummell: [00:02:37] Thank you cliff.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:02:38] you said you grew up in the Frankenmuth area. Why did you decide to go to Michigan state for your degree?

Greg Rummell: [00:02:48] Well, my mother was an avid Spartan fan and, she, certainly bled green. So we had, as kids might, you know, she would drag my, my sister and me to football games. And of course it’s the fall of the year. And that campus is probably one of the prettiest anywhere. It was the place I just kind of fell in love with and just always had aspirations to be a Spartan.

And so a upon graduation from high school, that’s where I. Pack my bags and was, you know, headed to East Lansing.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:03:20] sweet. And you graduated from Michigan state. You decided to join the family business, and you kind of referenced this before, and I’d like to go back and explore that a little bit. Tell us about the, the history. You said your grandfather, Emil founded. The the, the Rummel insurance agency there in Frankenmuth, but talk to us a little bit more about that, that family history there

Greg Rummell: [00:03:43] Yeah. So, your grandpa Amel was, Had worked for the bank, the local bank and was in charge. This was before there was, you know, separation of,  between commercial and an investment banking with an insurance operations before there was a separation. Now they’ve recombined things. So, it was, it was interesting.

when was McCarran Ferguson?  it was a, an act federal act that, affirmed state regulation of, of insurance and, separated,  or, or prohibited the operations of, of commercial investment banking organizations with, with that have insurance operations. So, they, they spun off and, Emil decided to start his, his own agency back in 1950.

 you know, really from, from the ground up, and in a small town and, and, my, my father recalls some memories of, of, you know, him being up at night. He was supposed to be in bed and he was sitting at the top of the stairs and listening in, on conversations between Emil and my grandmother, Arlene, wondering how they’re going to make the, make the mortgage payment.

Be able to support the family,  is you imagine starting a business from the ground up and, and, you know, winning those clients. And, so you know, it really, the rest is history. you know, the transition to the second generation when my father joined in the late sixties, following his, his service for uncle Sam, the U S army. And then, I joined back in 1990 after, after graduation. That was always the plan was, to perpetuate this to the third generation and continue the tradition of family business. And that was, when, when I came on board back in 1990, we had a staff of about 15 and again, just been blessed to continue to grow since that time.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:05:32] Greg, I’m always interested in speaking with these business owners who are actually in multigenerational family businesses.

What would you say are some of the other core values that have helped to grow your business?

Greg Rummell: [00:05:48] Great question Cliff. I, you know, I think about just as a young child and knowing that my father. Is in a family business. And my grandfather’s in a family business. She really didn’t understand family business, but there was an expectation that at some point, as. As my father,  only son,  the expectation was that I’m going to jump on that role someday.

So there was, just part of the plan and growing up and, and, and what I studied and,  things to be involved with,  obviously in insurances, One of those necessities in life where, you know, regardless of what’s happening in, in the economy, there’s always a level of insurance that, that needs to be purchased usually as anybody, part of anybody’s sound, you know, risk management plan.  so it, you know, the prospect of coming to work for a family business at times, You know, as a kid, you know, you, you have other aspirations, you have other thoughts. Here’s, you know, what else could I be doing? But, it just seemed like such a, such a good fit. So in coming back to the, you know, into the family business, you know, we look at and really business it’s like people really don’t change, but I think are the expectations out there, especially from a customer service standpoint, you know, have changed.

So our efforts are always geared toward.  who is, you know, in whose interests are, are we, are we doing business? And ultimately, I think for any top level organizations, it’s not just in the best interest of, of the customers as being your top priority. it’s beyond that it’s even general stakeholders that may not be a customer.

but it’s, it’s making sure that every decision that we’re making is, is going to be. In those best interests. So if we keep,  you know, those types of priorities and values in mind, because we’ve got our, we have our core values that we operate with internally, you know, internally as part of a mission and a vision statement. So core values are no exception when it comes to a family business, the. The goal is really to treat people like family and, and, you know, in a good way that, that we are all in this together and, and whether your name is Rummel or it’s not Rummel. And if you work here to me, You’re you’re part of our family.

I, I care deeply about every employee and their wellbeing. And, we, you know, we want each one of them to be successful as if they were a member of our own family. And I think what happens is when you do that successfully and promoting that within your culture, that shows in how each one of your employees then interacts with others,  I know that they know that they work for a, for a good organization because I can see it in how they interact.

And, they, they make the right decisions because a lot of times when, when you’re, in a business that is compensated,  based on, on revenue or commission and potentially how big that commission can be, there is always the possibility of. Making a decision that might not be a hundred percent in the best interest of the client.

And we, we stress that to our team, that our core values of honesty and integrity and people in relationships matter. Those are among our are. Top core values along with professionalism and learning and developing and growing because we want to have our, you know, the best educated staff we can possibly have, in, in helping people make the right decisions for their business, for their family, for their, you know, their children’s futures and making sure that they’re they’re protected.

 so really that, that boils down to families or internal customers. Our employees are the number one way that we can convey to the rest of the world, not just our customers, but, every other stakeholder out there that is affected by. Making the right decisions and helping guide people, advise and counsel them on, on constructing the best possible insurance and risk management programs for them as businesses and individuals.

We take that very seriously.  but also understand that. No. We’ve had a concept here for a lot of years that we stay, we stay in addition to our vision and our mission, our core values, and that’s work hard, play hard.  you gotta have fun and you can have fun and insurance too, because I think this is one of the best businesses in the world to be in.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:10:10] and speaking of enjoying the fruits of your labor amongst other things, I was really surprised to read that your family was actually really involved with the. Frankenmuth brewery, which is a type of insurance that you specialize in. So talk to us a little bit about the family history with the Frankenmuth brewery.

Greg Rummell: [00:10:30] Yeah. So before they were the Frankenmuth brewery, they were, they were the Guyer brothers and that’s, as my mother’s side of the family cliff and they, brewed there from the mid. 1870s, the guy, your family purchased the caste river brewery in 1874 that had been brewing on that site since 1862.  For about a hundred years, they operated as the Guyer brothers across, you know, multiple generations.

And, you know, the industry changed a lot as you’re, you’re aware a lot of consolidation transpired. A lot of the smaller brewers went by the wayside and the, you know, 50, 60 seventies, you know, companies like Anheuser, Busch,  some of the larger, Brewers throughout that, that era. and this was, you know, obviously it’s post world war two.

There was, you know, a lot of, when you think about, what happened,  with. You know, the, the economy in general, during the war, the war years, there was this effort to, you know, use, from the standpoint of materials and allocation of resources, you know, brewing the beer product itself became lighter.

We went from a case to a six pack, so it made it easier for,  You know, moms to carry their beer home and everything just got a little bit lighter during that, that time period, because a lot of the men were, they were either off to war or, you know, engaged in the war effort and, and in some ways, so beer became lighter, a consolidation of the business.

A lot of these smaller breweries went by the wayside. And then by the, by the late seventies or eighties, that was, there was no exception for the guy who brothers and, You know, they’re the business operations discontinued. there was then, you know, re-established, my man from Dusseldorf, Germany, Fred Schumacher, we hired a brewer, Fred shear, and they, made.

Really an impressive brewery and an impressive product that, early on was, was taking gold metals and, and earning other, other awards. I think back to the early days of the great American beer festival and Frankenmuth breweries doing quite well, early on. And, then that operation was taken over by the heinie family and, and, and now the Seraphin family. Owns the brewery and still operates it. And, you know, God willing, they’ll be able to get back up and running here for the retail operations. But yeah, there’s been a connection with our family for, for many years. And, with being, you know, right across the street from our office, it is a convenient destination for, you know, lunches and, you know, having, having dinners and, you know, taking people out.

So,  Yeah, that’s just been always kind of part of the family tradition here, from going back to the guy, your brothers days.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:13:07] Yeah, and I really do hope that, they can get up and running quickly and, you know, the conversation I was having with, Bill Zehnder of the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn. is, I know a lot of people are itching to get out and, and to start, you know, just going just a simple act of going out to dinner, you know, or going out and grabbing a beer with friends.

So, you know, I know a lot of people are looking forward to that.

Greg Rummell: [00:13:27] Yeah, definitely. And I think we can, you know, we can do it safely. I think, you know, if we can leave it up to the ingenuity, I mean, we’re people are entrepreneurs for a reason, you know, they’re, they’re flexible, they’re adaptable. vast majority can respond to change very quickly. so, you know, trust me, Michiganders are smart.

The ones that, that want to go out and they should. I feel they should be able to get out there and engage in and be mindful and respectful of others and, and we can do it safely. So, you know, I’ve, I’ve studied this issue for, you know, well, well past the last month and, spent a lot of time and research and, and what are ways that, that we can stay safe.

And, you know, I use, I use the healthcare system, I’m visiting, healthcare facilities, every week. And, they’re, they’re doing it successfully. They’re staying safe and, they’ve, they’ve got a method and certainly a lot of the, the, policies and procedures that are being updated and implemented for PPE and, and gleaning and combination with social distancing, I think have proven to be effective.

So, you know, let’s give business owners that, that opportunity, that flexibility, to get opened up and the patrons that are are. One to reengage and, and participate by all means they should have the ability to do so safely. So that’s something that we’re looking at doing here at the agency within the next couple of weeks Cliff, to, to get rolling again here, get people back into the office.

We’ve been fortunate, very blessed. To keep people employed.  that was my goal goal number two, and the onset of this pandemic Cliff was to, after number one, making sure that.  we’re doing the right things to keep our team safe. For those that, that do have to remain here in the work force,  in the workplace, it is an essential business, but the vast majority of our, our employees we could accommodate from home.

And, yeah, so now we’re getting ready to, to bring them back in and we want to make sure that the. You know, all the safeguards procedures, any, any physical modifications that has to be done. you know, using personal protective equipment when appropriate, that’s all going to be in place before we open up, because if we’re gonna, you know, we’re going to do something, obviously we want to err on the side of caution, right?

We want to keep everybody safe. And this, this. Pandemic, because I don’t think COVID is gonna go away. When any official government restrictions are lifted, it’s still gonna be here. And we do have to do our best to keep people safe.

  Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:48] Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. And I know there’s a lot of businesses out there that are putting all these extra plans in place. Not only to keep their customers safe, but to keep their employees safe as well. And I think that people are definitely going to be, you know, wanting to get out. And they’re just going to want to make sure that if they.

You know, when they do go out that it’s, it’s going to be safe and that they can still have a good time. So, it’s speaking to this cause we’re kind of, we kind of migrated to this topic. 

what are perhaps maybe three things that people should be thinking about or how they’re going to be impacted with regards to the COVID-19 from, from an insurance standpoint, what should they be thinking about? as they, as they move forward?

Greg Rummell: [00:17:29] Those are, those are great questions. And I, gosh, cliff, I really wish I had at a crystal ball at times to see where this is going, because so much of what is occurring. Is is based on, you know, real time information. You know, it’s just, this is so new and unprecedented and none of us having. So few of us, I hear a few, few stories about folks that are into their hundreds.

You know, that, that, can either have lived through as an infant,  that 19 18, you know, obviously they call it the Spanish flu,  really had nothing to do with Spain, but, it’s a, you know, hit here in 1919. And, you know, for obviously the vast majority of us, this is, this is so new. And so in trying to vet through what is, what is credible.

Relevant information versus what’s speculation. What is, what really is putting people at risk and what we can do safely?  you know, being able, able to have a little bit of foresight to say, all right, we know we need to get things back rolling. How can we do it safely? keeping that mindset as. From, from the standpoint of risk management, number one, that that really is focused.

Number one, before we even talk insurance is, is how do we effectively mitigate this? We’re, you know, we can’t make Covid go away. You know, even with a vaccine, we talk about the effectiveness of vaccines is still the fact that, you know, even with, for example, a flu vaccine, we still lose tens of thousands every year.

A vaccine is certainly part of the solution, but it’s gonna involve mitigation of risks. So how do we do that? Well, we already have some pretty concrete examples. We, we keep people separated,  you know, segregation and separation of, of people and assets. I mean, that’s a long standing, you know, effective way to manage your risk.

So if you’re thinking about. You know, as an, you know, a lot of us are homeowners and, you know, we have the ability to host gatherings and parties then, you know, I think, especially with, you know, I have a, a senior in high school and, you know, this would be the time of the year where. There’s a lot.

That would be a lot of socialization and congregating with all those senior year festivities from, you know, commencement and baccalaureate proms, you know, graduation parties. And so when I think of those types of things, gatherings, social gatherings, and hosting parties, especially privately. is to, you know, just, just be cautious of, of that risk of what you’re potentially bringing together,  especially with kids, because they tend to what we’re finding now or what the experts are saying is, you know, young adults,  teens, people into their twenties, or, a lot of them can be carrying the scope of 19 and BA symptomatic and be spreading and without any, any knowledge.

So we’re still encouraging people. Even those that are, that are healthy to maintain a, you know, a separation. I know we talk about six feet, you know, and I think it’s just simply a distance that, you know, the experts refer to as, okay, that’s, that’s not close, intimate contact, whether it’s six feet or eight feet or 10 feet,  you know, we’re, we’re, we’re recommending that, you know, if you’re thinking about having parties and reengage and just keep mindful of that, You know, we’ve, I will tell you as a family and I’m at I’m at risk, I’m allegedly immunocompromised, just because of the treatments I’m taking, but I don’t consider myself in that category.

And I think as we. As this pandemic kind of wears on. And it’s only been a couple months, which in the terms of pandemic is, is, is, is really a short period of time. So, this virus is going to be here a long time. So, you know, when people are thinking about having gatherings and things like that, just be aware that this social distancing and, and whether or not you believe in wearing a mask.

 you know, again, back to my comment about using our healthcare system weekly,  you know, I’ve been to a facility that has, has done an incredible job of, of making sure that they’re they’re immunocompromised patients are safe and that they’re keeping their staff safe as not to infect people. And they’ve done what I think is an incredible job because I visited weekly, we maintain social distancing and, they are committed to a higher level of clean and they also require masks.

So, you know, I think for. Well, Oh, no, that’s for insurance is the question that we don’t know this yet. A time will tell. And I think it’s going to take some potentially new gold in order to see how potentially insurers are going to react. And if coverage is going to even apply, but you know, let’s say you host a party and some people get sick and it’s, you know, roughly the same time.

 you know of, let’s say, you know, the onset of symptoms all happens at the same time. These people were all at the same party. Could there be liability potentially, for, for that host, not following the rules, you know, so I don’t, I don’t know all these things yet. And, and, and, there’s several schools of thought that are saying, is our policies going to step up and cover some of this stuff or not?

So my, of course my, my suggestion is just, Hey, just stay safe. And, insurance is one of those unique products where it isn’t always the most effective risk management tool because it, it only covers certain types of losses or exclude certain types of claims. And right now we have the challenge of vetting.

Through all different types of contracts that refer or don’t refer to viruses and to what degree those are covered. So there’s a lot of uncharted water here that, most of the, the agents and insurance companies that we work with cliff are taking on a case by case basis. All right. So. in general, based on my experience of, of virus, language and policies on the surface, you know, it would, the indication and the intention of most companies is that these types of claims are not covered.

But, you know, going back to what a lot of these insurers are saying is. You know, case by case basis, maybe there’s some defense.  how do you pinpoint it with a pandemic as to where people were really exposed? So,  for advice for people is just, you know, do the right thing, you know, try to try to take in con into consideration.

All the recommendations and the advice of, you know, the credible professionals out there and, you know, don’t follow all the internet rumors and everything else. It’s, you know, what we found is,  you know, so far it shows that in an effort to flatten the curve, which unfortunately seems to be likely to lengthen,  the, the duration of a pandemic, it also should help save.

Healthcare from becoming overwhelmed.  you know, as well as the, you know, the, the limitation of those resources, being able to be effective in treating X amount of people, we know that there’s only, there’s only so many people that can be accommodated.  but also it’s, you know, you think about your neighbors that, you know, and friends that may be, you know, compromised or, or for other reasons that preexisting conditions that would make them more susceptible to having trouble fighting, fighting COVID.

So that’s our really best advice right now is just, you know, be nice show, some respect for others. And you know, if we don’t know that masks are a hundred percent effective, well, what does it, what does it hurt to put one on right.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:24:44] Yeah, that’s true. I know my, my fiance and I we’re, if we do go out in public, we are wearing mask and I don’t know how effective they are, but it was down to the whole, you know, better be safe than sorry. So,

Greg Rummell: [00:24:56] I agree.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:24:57] Yeah. So for, for people that might want to follow you or connect with you online, or maybe somebody just got some more questions that they’re thinking about, and I know you talked about how your be opening up your office within the next few weeks, but what would be the best way for people to be able to connect with you?

Greg Rummell: [00:25:15] Yeah, I, I am happy to, you know, these days where we’re, we’re so socially removed and I’m a people person, so I kind of missed the contact and, and, you know, Not to not to get you on a completely different subject, but one of the things that changed after, after my diagnosis last fall cliff was a lot of the accounts that I had been managing, you know, not knowing what, what, what future the good Lord had in store for me.

 a lot of my day to day involvement with, with my clients, Which was shifted to other people within the organization. So I would suggest that the amount of work that I’ve been doing on this, as well as, working with our local chamber and, and, and other leadership here. Within the business community in particular, to look at,  ideas and ways to better protect business is really where it’s going to fall upon for the highest levels of, of really due diligence in making sure that they’re following the procedures for keeping their employees and their patrons.

When we do get opened up to try to. Maximize safety. And at every opportunity,  we do have access to a lot of resources and a feel that we are a good source of advice and counsel in that regard. So they can feel free to, they can email and they can call. I will give both of those numbers. So cliff, our, our agency number is, 800. 5 7 2 0 9 3 9. And I can be reached via email at Greg Rummel. So it’s a first name, last name, . That is all spelled out. So yeah. What’s your writing skills to work there to jot that one down.

Cliff Duvernois: [00:27:09] yes. And for our audience, we will make sure to have those, those links in the show notes below as well as the phone numbers that he rattled off. So, Greg, I. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. This has been, this has been a very eyeopening experience, so thank you for coming on and sharing things with us.

Thank you.

Greg Rummell: [00:27:27] My pleasure Cliff. Really enjoyed our time together as well. And you will make it a great rest of your day. 

About The Host

About The Host

Cliff Duvernois

Cliff is the host of “The Call of Leadership” podcast.  He has published over 500 short stories over Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn.  He is a passionate lifelong learner, marketer and philanthropist.  He currently lives in Reese, Michigan with his fiancé Sherry and her two children.

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